Ocean Service Vessel(OSV) Bold: Seafloor Research Cruise
Friday, June 25 – After eight days of intense work, we pulled into Boston Harbor with a little regret that the research cruise is coming to an end. The scientific crew did an amazing job, collecting samples from 200 stations in a little more than six days. A better group of scientists would be hard to find. The weather cooperated throughout the cruise, with only one day where the sea conditions were not flat calm. The equipment worked with only one small glitch, which was quickly repaired with the help of the ship’s technicians and some quick thinking on the part of Kathryn Ford, one of DMF’s scientists aboard. The most immediately gratifying samples that were collected were the videos taken at each station. Everyone was always curious about what would be shown on the screen as the camera came to rest on the seafloor.
Once we finished collecting samples in the early morning hours of Thursday, our focus changed from the collection of bottom samples to assisting the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in their side scan sonar survey of the Massachusetts Bay Disposal Site adjacent to Stellwagen Bank. Side scan sonar work is accomplished by dropping a “towfish” from the stern of the boat and towing it through the water at a distance of approximately five meters over the bottom. It takes an electronic photograph of the bottom out to 100 meters on each side of the instrument. We saw shipwrecks, barrels, and mounds of dredge sediments appear on our computer displays as we spent almost 24 hours covering the target area.
We accomplished all of the goals we had set for the cruise and exceeded expectations. A very preliminary review of the data indicates that the seafloor sediment maps that we set out to verify are very accurate and will require only minimal changes. Once the samples are analyzed and the data examined we will be able to further refine our conclusions. As we sign off from this cruise, we hope to participate in future collaborative research projects like this one.